Feb. 9th, 2016

hailthenarc: (Default)
You wouldn't think so, considering New York is such a northern state, and our little town is so close to New York City, a liberal capital of the nation and almost first in progressive thinking and breaking the mold, but most of us upstate are pretty conservative. Deeply religious, in fact. Me and my parents have been going to church every day since the day I was born, just a little Protestant church a few blocks away from the school here. Everyone in town goes each and every week, and after we all enjoy a little snack, some bagels, a brownie, a cup of coffee or juice.

It's pretty odd to be anything but Christian up here, which is why Harold gained such attention when he moved here from California. First of all he was just... tan. It made him a very popular man among the younger girls here, a nice golden tan, the body of a god, bleach blond hair and bright green eyes. He could have cut the image of a king the way he strode down the sidewalk and drove his vintage cars around town. He said he was a lawyer who had moved to New York to 'experience the seasons'. Didn't know California didn't have seasons, but I've never been too far out of state, so I didn't bother asking.

I remember the first day I saw him outside of his house on my way back from church one Sunday. He was mowing the lawn, which was a bit odd for anyone in town on Sunday, all things considered. A lawn chair wasn't too far away with some beer in the cup holder, and a few passing older patrons of the church snubbed him and hustled past faster. I just leaned on his fence and called out to him.

"Hey, Harold. Didn't see you in church today, why didn't you get your lawn on Saturday?" It seemed like a valid question to me, but Harold just laughed, shaking his head and leaning on his now silent lawn mower.

"Damn, Nichole, I had other stuff to do yesterday! I have all of today to get the lawn done, is God gonna hit me with a lightning bolt for doing house work?" My nose wrinkled a bit at the tone. A subtle chiding to it, as if he were speaking to an especially dull adult or small child.

"I think God is a bit more inventive than that." I answered back with a shrug, and Harold just laughed again, going to take a sip from his beer.

"I didn't take you for one of the other scared old ladies here, Nik. You're twenty five not eighty six."

"I'm not scared. I just want to show a little respect that's all." Harold didn't seem to be taking any of this seriously, spreading his arms out wide.

"Look, if God didn't want me mowing my lawn and drinking my beer on a Sunday, I'm sure he'd set me on fire or attack me with an angel or something. Look, Nik, standing right here, with my beer and my lawn mower on a Sunday. Hey God! Where are you? I'm doing household chores and drinking alcohol on your day off!" He waved his arms around, gaining some more flabbergasted attention from some more easily offended senior citizens. I just stretched and waved.

"Tell me when God gets back to you on that, Harold." No reason to get upset about it, I never thought it was that big of a deal.

Now, in things that are slightly more of a big deal, my mother is the nurse here in our tiny little town. A college trained professional who helps our local EMT squad. Sometimes, when someone in town has a medical issue, and needs someone to look at it for free before they spend money on their illness, they'll head to my mom for an opinion. I bring this up, because not but seven days later, Sunday again, we got a knock on the door. I answered it, and there was Harold. Now, it was the dead heat of summer at the time, ninety degrees out, and though I knew southern California was hotter than here, it still seemed especially odd Harold was in a cable knit sweater and slacks.

"Hey! Nik!" I focused on a bead of sweat gently rolling down his tanned face, hanging on the end of stubble that was just starting to appear. He never liked hair on any part of him but his head from what I've seen of his running around town. Odd.

"You running a fever or something, Harold?" The question seemed to fit the bill, I indicated his sweater, and he laughed nervously. Almost a titter, actually.

"Yeah, something along those lines. Is your mom at home?" He kept shifting his weight, reaching to scratch at his hidden arms and chest. Maybe it was shingles then, but I was no nurse.

"Just a sec-" Mom wasn't too hard to find, and she ushered him into the bathroom, due to how loud he protested about showing her where everyone could see. After a moment, he was pushed back out, looking overheated, but relieved, my mom patting him on the back.

"This is why you don't remove hair like that, Harold. Ingrown hairs are pretty common. Just don't pop them and you'll be fine." He turned red, but hustled out the door. Well, that would explain it. Maybe that was why the stubble was there, just learned the hard way.

It wouldn't be for another few days before I would see Harold again, but this time in the dead of night. See, I work at odd hours, and I only get to walk my dog after the sun goes down due to them, and it was right about where Harold's house was that I caught sight of him again. At least... well I assumed it was him. Harold was a typically muscular young man, but the figure I saw pawing and fumbling at the door didn't look quite like him. The moonlight caught limp, damp blond hair, roots just starting to show, and it certainly looked like his facial profile, perhaps with just a few thick odd strands hanging from it. Strange, I didn't think beards grew that fast.

I crept in closer, the dog busy with pissing his little brains out all over the nearby rhododendron bushes.

At first I thought he was wearing another thick, woolly sweater, this time with some woolly pants to match, considering all the yarn hanging off it. Until the yarn started to curl and twitch. My breath caught in my throat.

Harold was naked. Shivering and naked, panting and hissing at the door as the glow of the moon cast an eerie spotlight on him.

His once powerful body, one that was alikened to royalty, was seething with quarter inch thick, twistiing white worms. Worms, everywhere, pus white worms writhing on his hands and palms, worms twitching and burrowing in the flesh of his thighs and legs, worms curling up at his chin to brush his lips and jam themselves past his chattering teeth, where they would pop and ooze thick white fluid. The side walk oozed with pus and blood, glistening on his doorstep and his once smooth skin.

I almost forgot what was happening until my dog starting crying and trying to walk away without me, apparently I'd been ignoring him for too long.

In an instant, The Thing That May Be Harold turned its head, its eyes bulging, its mouth twisted in an expression of madness and anguish. Like a wounded animal it made an aborted lunge for me. Now, I've never been very athletic before. I ran the mile in twenty minutes in high school and I've settled on never exerting myself for no reason ever again.

Well I had a reason. I ran that mile in five minutes, I'm sure of it, though when I got home I was wheezing and panting and gibbering almost as badly as The Thing That May Be Harold. Poor little dog had never worked his tiny fat legs so much in his life, and we both collapsed into bed.

The ambulance had a call that night, and my mom was oddly grave and quiet and the breakfast table. Aside from the sleep deprivation, I knew why.

Very interesting story in the paper the next day. Just in the obituaries, poor Harold had been found outside his house, dead from 'diabetic complications'.

I went to church that Sunday and said a little prayer for poor Harold. Something tells me he's going to be needing it.


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